A permanent resident is an immigrant who has been granted authorization to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. A Permanent Resident Card, commonly called a green card, is provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as proof of the individual’s status.
The major benefit of having a green card is the ability for a non-citizen to be employed in the U.S. Other benefits of having a green card include:
- Eligible to receive federal benefits (such as Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), food stamps (SNAP), SSI or TANF, Medicare or Section 8 subsidized housing) after they have been in the U.S. with permanent resident status for at least 5 years;
- Ability to sponsor relatives to apply for their own green cards;
- Eligible for in-state tuition in many states, including Florida, at state colleges, universities and technical schools;
- For shorter trips (6 months of less), international travel from the U.S. is much easier for non-citizens holding a green card; and
- After five years, a Legal Permanent Resident may apply for U.S. citizenship.
Facts You Should Know
Federal law establishes eligibility criteria for permanent residency. Eligibility categories include:
- Family: In broad terms, this includes immediate family members of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, fiancée of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or the child of such fiancée, widow(er) of a U.S. citizen;
- Employment: Includes individuals who have special skills, educational degrees or abilities, certain physicians who will work in an underserved area, or immigrant investors who will provide jobs;
- Special Immigrant: In general, this includes religious workers, abused children, translators for the U.S., NATO retirees, international broadcasters;
- Refugee or Asylee;
- Human trafficking, crime victims, and people subjected to abuse;
- Other Categories: Includes those who receive a visa under the U.S. Department of State’s diversity visa lottery, certain natives or citizens of Cuba, Haiti or Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos);
- Registry: May be available to those who have resided continuously in the U.S. prior to Jan. 1, 1972.
On April 22, 2020 the President issued an Executive Order to temporarily suspend the approval of green cards. However there are a number exceptions.
The eligibility criteria under each of these categories is complex and subject to change.